I was recently thinking about the rhetoric of love within academia that William Pannapacker describes while I was reading Leo Babauta’s The Little Book of Contentment (it’s free online). It’s a nice easy read and some of its main points are particularly useful for academics to keep in mind:
The key problems associated with discontent:
1. An ideal/fantasy we are holding onto.
2. Unhappiness with who we are.
3. Lack of trust/confidence in ourselves.
4. Seeking happiness externally.
Adopting a rhetoric of love makes academics much more disposed to fall victim to discontent associated with holding onto an ideal/fantasy and seeking happiness externally. Though academia’s acceptance of alt and non-academic positions is growing, the ideal (or fantasy depending on your perspective of the job market) is still very much a tenure track position (preferably at a research university). By imbuing careers with “love”, academics not only continue to construct an ideal employment, but also tie self-worth and happiness to the workplace. Looking for love in academia (from employment, not the people) unnecessarily connects something you do to the person you are. While enjoying your career is important, pursuing a job you “love” can lead to discontentment.